A season for everything: A time to unplug

By Curtis Shelburne: Religion columnist

I’ve always liked the words of the wise man in Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything, /and a season for every activity under heaven: /a time to be born and a time to die, /a time to plant and a time to uproot, /a time to kill and a time to heal, /a time to tear down and a time to build, /a time to weep and a time to laugh, /a time to mourn and a time to dance . . .”

I suspect that in our day he might add, “a time to log on and a time to unplug.”

I write that almost as an admission because I have never evidenced much awareness that “a time to unplug” does indeed exist.

I love my computer. My family and friends know I love my computer. On the dark day a couple of years ago when I baptized my laptop computer with an almost full cup of Starbuck’s coffee, one of my daughters-in-law, hearing the news, gasped, “Is Curtis alright?” She naturally thought I might be hospitalized under sedation and suicide watch.

If the house was to catch fire, I’d rush out with my wife, my dog, and my computer. (Yes, in that order. I’m appalled that you’d ask!)

I’ll admit to some concerns about addiction. When my wife and I went to visit the kids and granddaughter (just one little beauty in the family then) a couple of years ago, and I discovered that I’d left my computer’s power cord at home and had at best just a few hours of battery time, I remember getting almost shaky and nauseous.

So last week when the time rolled around for my brothers’ and my biannual pilgrimage to our grandparents’ old homeplace at Robert Lee, Texas, and I told a friend I was leaving my computer at home, he absolutely refused to believe it. His response was akin to the Apostle Thomas’ reaction at the news of the Resurrection: “Unless I see your machine sitting at your house and reach my hand into the bag and feel its cold metal presence, I will not believe.”

I admit that I wondered myself if I could do it. But I was traveling on two wheels. Motorcycle packing is challenge enough without adding worries about what road rattle and the vibration of a big V-twin engine might do to laptop bits and bytes and electronics.

I did fine. And though I understood both the work-related need and the addiction that caused my two older brothers to have their computers fired up at Robert Lee, I received an added blessing from not having mine. I was able to adopt the stinky, self-righteous, condescending attitude of the fellow who’s just quit a four pack a day habit or lost thirty pounds and thus feels superior to poor smokers and pitiful porkers the world over.

I better go. I’m home. 627 e-mails to look through. Twenty might matter. And I need to write a column on the virtue of humility.